Entree | Field To Table

Venison Meatballs – Deer Meat Meatballs

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Venison Meatballs are an easy, low-fat alternative to beef and an excellent use for ground venison. They can be baked, pan-fried, or air-fried, whichever is easier for you.

venison meatballs smothered in sauce with cheese.Pin

Why should you make venison meatballs?

If you have a hunter or, in our case, hunters in the family, it can be hard to find different recipes to make so you’re not eating the same things repeatedly. For this reason, we needed to learn how to make tasty dishes with venison consistently. There is a learning curve, no doubt. Once you have mastered it, you can create tons of tasty dishes, and venison could become an inexpensive, sustainable option for your dinner table.

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Venison is much healthier than beef or pork. It has less fat and calories than other red meat options like beef or pork.

Because venison has so little fat, some dishes with venison benefit from adding a bit of fattier meat, such as these meatballs, they are still tasty without adding additional fat, but the mouthfeel can suffer.

As a general rule of thumb, slow-cooked venison recipes do not require extra fat. Faster cooking techniques (except the loins and tenderloins) require some additional fat content.

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Meatballs are one of those cases. This recipe for venison meatballs would work equally well with other wild game meat. Elk, moose, caribou, or antelope will all work as they belong to the ungulate family.

What you need

  • Ground Deer Meat: We use a coarse grind for the venison so it doesn’t overcook.
  • Ground Pork or Beef Trimmings: Use a fine grind for the pork meat or beef trimmings.
  • Grated Onion: Grating the onion gives you the onion flavor without large chunks of onion in the meatballs. Substitute onion powder if you are out of onion, but fresh onion is best.
  • Grated Garlic: You grate the garlic for the same reason you grate the onion. Grating it gives you the flavor without large chunks in your meatballs. Again, substitute garlic powder if you have no fresh garlic.
  • Eggs: Use fresh, large eggs. We prefer brown, organic, free-range eggs.
  • Milk: You need a splash of milk to hold the meatballs together.
  • Bread Crumbs: You can use fresh or dried breadcrumbs. These act as a binding agent to hold the balls together.
  • Parsley: If you have fresh parsley, use that. If not, substitute dried parsley.
  • Oregano: If you have fresh oregano, use that. If not, substitute dried oregano.
  • Thyme: If you have fresh thyme, use that. If not, substitute dried thyme.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Add the Parmesan to make Italian meatballs for sauce. If not, you can omit it.

How to Make Venison / Deer Meatballs

Step One:

Add the venison and pork or beef to a large mixing bowl.

Ground beef and pork in a large bowl.Pin
Add the beef and pork to a large bowl. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Two:

Grate two tablespoons of onion directly over the meat to capture the juices.

Grating onion into the bowl with the meat.Pin
Grate onion directly over the meat. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival

Step Three:

Grate the garlic over the meat, too.

Onion and garlic grated into the bowl with the meat.Pin
Grate the garlic over the meat. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Four:

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.

Two eggs in a small bowl.Pin
Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Five:

Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, and herbs to the ground meat in the bowl. If you’re making meatballs for Italian sauce, add Parmesan cheese.

All of the ingredients added to a large bowl.Pin
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Six:

Mix gently but well. Don’t overwork the meat, or it will become dry and tough.

Ingredients mixed up in the bowl.Pin
Mix well. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Seven:

Form the meat into balls. An ice cream scoop or cookie scoop works well to portion meat. (Affiliate links)

Formed meatballs on a baking sheet.Pin
Form the meatballs. Place on a baking sheet. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Eight:

Bake at 350°F 40 minutes until golden and internal temperature is over 165°F.

If you use your air fryer for large meatballs, fry them at 350°F for about 8 minutes. Flip them and continue to air fry for another 8 minutes until the internal temperature is 165°F, measured with an instant-read meat thermometer. If you cook them in sauce after browning, cook them to 140-145°F. Here are instructions for small meatballs.

Cooked meatballs on the baking sheet.Pin
Bake for about 40 minutes. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

You can also fry these meatballs over medium-high heat. If you fry the meatballs in a skillet, they will get flat sides and not be round. Fry them in oil until browned, turn them with tongs, and fry them on both sides. The oil should be deep enough to reach halfway up the ball. Drain them on a wire rack or paper towels.

What to do With Leftovers

Storage: Store leftover meatballs in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Meatballs freeze well. You can either freeze them cooked or uncooked. Uncooked balls will have a longer freezer storage time- up to six months. Freeze the balls on a parchment or waxed paper lined, rimmed baking sheet for 3-4 hours. Then, transfer to freezer bags or containers and freeze.

plate of pasta, sauce and meatballsPin

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the internal temperature of the finished meatballs?

The internal temperature is 165°F. Don’t cook them all the way through if you plan to continue cooking them in the sauce. Cook them to about 140-145°F. Ensure they are 165°F before consuming.

Do I have to add the pork or beef fat?

Technically no. But the texture, flavor, and mouthfeel are markedly better with added fat.

How much fattier meat should you add?

The sweet spot is 20-25% fat to venison ratio. You can go as high as 50-50%, but there is no need to go this high.

Can I use diced onion and garlic?

Yes, you can use diced onion and garlic, but sautée until the onion is translucent. You don’t want to add raw onion or garlic to your meatballs. Allow them to cool to room temperature before adding them to the meat mixture.

Can you make them gluten-free?

You can make these meatballs gluten-free using gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed corn-flakes, corn or rice chex cereal, or cornmeal.

Pro Tips for Your Success

  1. Add fresh (stale crustless bread ground up) breadcrumbs to the milk for the best binding. Let the crumbs soak up the milk. Soaking ensures the crumbs are soft, and the paste they form will hold your meatballs together. You can add dried breadcrumbs to the milk, but they won’t bind as well as fresh.
  2. As we stated previously, work the meat mixture gently. Then roll the balls, and just get the meat mixture so that it just holds together. Don’t overwork them. If the meat is overworked, it will be dry and tough.
  3. This recipe uses any venison, deer, elk, moose, or antelope.
  4. Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment before baking, saving cleanup time.

How to serve them

  • Top a big bowl of spaghetti or your favorite pasta and spaghetti sauce.
  • Use them for meatball subs with added sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.
  • Make appetizer meatballs with your favorite sauces.

Meal Prep tip: Make a double batch. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Freeze for 3 hours or so. Add the balls to a freezer bag. Put them in the freezer before or after cooking for an easy dinner for another night.

Other delicious venison recipes

Here are all of the tasty venison recipes on Binky’s Culinary Carnival

More ground venison recipes

Tools I Use to Make Venison Meatballs

Contains affiliate links; for full disclosure, see FTC Disclosure here.

Want to learn more about How to Cook Venison? Don’t miss our awesome Ultimate Guide! Complete with 65 FREE Recipes from some of the top venison recipe developers in the world!

venison meatballs sprinkled with parsleyPin

We hope you like this deer meat meatball recipe. Give it a try today.

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Venison meatball topped spaghetti in a white bowl.Pin

Venison Meatballs

Venison Meatballs are an easy, low fat alternative to beef! These Venison Meatballs can be baked, or air fried to make them even healthier!
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
4.87 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 104kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds ground venison meat
  • 1/2 pound pork, ground
  • 1/2 small Onion or substitute onion powder
  • 3 cloves garlic or substitute garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoon Milk
  • 1.5 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Instructions

  • Grate onion and garlic right over bowl with the meat in it.
    1.5 pounds ground venison meat, 1/2 pound pork, ground, 1/2 small Onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • Whisk eggs. Add the rest of ingredients to bowl and mix, gently, but well by hand.
    2 large eggs, 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoon Milk, 1.5 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • Form meatballs. For dinner meatballs, portion meat with ice cream scoop. For appetizer meatballs, portion with cookie scoop.
  • Place on ungreased, rimmed baking sheet, so the meatballs are not touching. Line the sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
  • Bake them in 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until browned and temperature is over 165°F. If you continue to cook them in sauce afterward, cook them to 140-145°F.
  • Serve with your favorite sauce.
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Video

Notes

Using ice cream or cookie scoop will help you make meatballs the same size so that they cook in the same amount of time.
Baking meatballs keeps the meatballs rounder and more uniform than frying and decreases the fat content of this recipe.
Meatballs can also be fried in the air fryer.
If you are grinding your meat, use the 1/2″ hole grinder plate and run meat through grinder twice. It’s better with a coarser cut.
Bake these baked venison meatballs on a cookie sheet with sides, to collect the juices. Add a sheet of parchment paper to make cleanup easy.
 
If you change up the spices, you can make a meatballs with any other flavor profile you choose for appetizers or even for dinner
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 195mg | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1.8mg
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Beth Neels

Author: Beth Neels

Title: Owner

Expertise: canning, game meat cooking, smoking

Bio:

Beth Neels is an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, author, and recipe developer. She founded Binky’s Culinary Carnival in 2014, focusing on “Crafting delicious recipes with sustainable ingredients.” She has been featured in multiple online publications, including MSN, Reader’s Digest, Associated Press, and Parade.

42 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    I added some grated Parmesan to the meat along with some grated frozen butter ( 2tbsp) because I didn’t have the pork.
    Two comments:
    1. If you can grate an onion without dropping tears into the bowl, you’re a better human than I.
    2. Two tsp of pepper is too much.

    1. Well, if you had used the pork too, there would have been more volume so it may not have been too much pepper. You should always salt and pepper per your taste, in the future. Lol on grating the onion. If you get a strong onion, you’re right. You could always grate it with your food processor too.

  2. 4 stars
    I make these fairly often. Tonight will be my sixth time since finding the recipe. ONLY reason for 4 stars is the adding pork. I have never added the pork. We eat mostly venison in our home. The only time I’ve added pork sausage to my venison is on occasion our deer burgers for something different and when I make homemade breakfast sausage. Meatballs, I have never needed to add any other meat. Otherwise I use the recipe exact.

    1. I’m glad you like them Sandy. We like just of pork for a little extra moisture. Thanks for letting me know.

    1. You can use either. The quantity listed is for dried parsley. But certainly fresh is better. Just double the amount of fresh parsley. We love these meatballs! Let me know how you like them Elizabeth.

  3. I mixed a half a pound of ground beef in my venison worked out great with your recipe made a lot and going to freeze them take them out when I need them thank you so much

    1. Yes. Sometimes I add ground pork or beef to stretch the recipe. I’m so glad you liked them Geraldine. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. I made these last night ! They were delicious! I used them in a tomato sauce and served with pasta ! I will definitely be making them again thank you

  5. These sound great, want to make tonight but I don’t have any ground pork. Think it will be fine to omit it

    1. Do you have anything else with a bit of fat content? Maybe some lard, or steak fat? If not add some olive oil to the mixture to give them some fat content. Let me know how you like them Nancy!

        1. Absolutely! Use any milk substitute that you like. Almond milk, cashew milk, soy, rice. Any of these will work. Thanks for checking out the recipe Setareh! Let me know how you like them.

  6. 5 stars
    We made these meatballs today. They were fabulous! I baked and then tossed in Apricot BBQ sauce. The family loved them! We will definitely be making this recipe again!!
    Thanks

    1. Oh great! I’m so glad you liked the recipe! That BBQ sauce sounds amazing too! I will have to try that! Thanks so much Lisa!

    1. Yes Holly! You absolutely can freeze them before cooking. Just freeze them on a cookie sheet, until they are frozen. Then vacuum pack or place them in baggies and you can pull out as many as you like and bake them from frozen. It will take them longer, it depends on how large they are but at least 15-20 minutes. Just bake until browned and they register 165°F internal temperature! Thanks for your question!

    1. Thank you Anicka! I am so glad you liked them! It is always a sad day in our house when we run out of venison for the year!

  7. 5 stars
    Sounds delicious! AND healthy! I love that you bake these. My hubby is a big fan of venison but I’ve never made meatballs with deer. We’ll have to try this recipe out! Thx!

      1. These sound delicious! I was gonna make these with some zoodles for my meal prep dinner next week. I was wondering if it is 104cal per meatball or per serving? Thank you!!

  8. 5 stars
    I love cooking with venison, it is hellish expensive in these parts but I’m worth it 😉 Looking forward to trying this.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe sounds so tasty. I’ve never made venison meatballs. Recipe saved and cannot wait to make these beauties.

  10. 5 stars
    YES!! My husband did not have a successful hunting season this year. Thankfully, his uncle gave us some ground venison. I love using it for meatballs. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  11. This is fascinating, I love it! My husband is a big fan of trying new and exciting meats, and I know he would flip for these meatballs. Where would I go to find venison? A specialty butcher?

  12. 5 stars
    I have been trying to find a venison meatball recipe that I like for ages! Thanks for finally getting to these meatballs! I don’t like all of the purchased ingredients in most recipes, like Worcestershire and ketchup, etc! I loved the simplicity of this recipe and we all LOVE them! I did add the Parmesan cheese, as you suggested and that gives a great flavor! Thanks!

    1. Oh, great Bobby! I’m so pleased! I know it has taken be a few years to get these meatballs on BCC! Better late than never! 🙂 I still have so many more venison recipes to go! There is only so much time in a day! Thank you!

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